Helmet by Seamus Heaney

Topics: Seamus Heaney, District and Circle, Firefighter Pages: 3 (1019 words) Published: August 11, 2013
Name: Muhammad Akhlil Bin Mohamed Ridza
ID Number: 2842
Question:
How does Heaney present the link between Bobby Breen and his helmet? (Seamus Heaney District and Circle Poem)

The poem ‘Helmet’ written by Seamus Heaney tells the story of a fireman named Bobby Breen who was loyal to his cause and is considered a hero by many. Bobby Breen’s helmet is able to showcase his experiences as a fireman and Heaney uses different language and literary techniques to link Bobby himself to his helmet as well as illustrating the everyday lives of the firemen.

Heaney presents the helmet as a literary device symbolising the different traits of its owner. The helmet is seen as a symbol of identity as it represents both Bobby’s identity and job. Similar to how a policeman is represented by his badge and how scientists are represented by their lab coats, Heaney does the same thing with Bobby Breen as he writes, “Bobby Breen’s” referring to the helmet which reflects his given identity as a fireman. Secondly, Heaney also symbolises ownership using the helmet as he writes, “With BREEN in scarlet letters on its spread”. Just like how students write their names on books to as a symbol of ownership, the ‘BREEN’ embedded in Bobby’s helmet does the same as people know that the helmet belongs to him. Another symbol Heaney uses is the symbol of respect. He writes “Beneath the crown” juxtaposing the helmet of Bobby Breen with a king’s crown symbolising how respectful a fireman’s job is. Heaney also symbolises Bobby Breen as a respected individual as he writes a reference from O’Grady when he described Heaney’s helmet as “Headgear of the tribe”. This showcases the amazing respect the other firemen have for Bobby Breen and how much he is idolised as his helmet is considered to not only represent himself, but also the whole group of firemen referred to as ‘the tribe’.

Besides that, Heaney uses distinctive imagery to also present the link between Bobby Breen and his helmet. Firstly,...
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